The RPL Practitioner Network Ireland came into being in 2015.

The RPL Practitioner Network Ireland is led by practitioners working and interested in the area of Recognition of Prior Learning.

The network aims to:

Provide a coherent practitioner voice to shape and inform policy development

Support the development of a community of practice, providing opportunities to share learning, face to face, online and through practical sharing of toolkits and resources

Promote good practice, informed by national and international practitioner and policy perspectives

What is RPL?

Recognition of prior learning (RPL), describes a process used evaluate skills and knowledge acquired outside the classroom for the purpose of recognising competence against a given set of standards, competencies, or learning outcomes.

This learning may have taken place formally through a further or higher education provider or informally or non-formally through work/life experiences. Ensuring that this prior learning is recognised and given appropriate value is an important step in ensuring that lifelong learning pathways are meaningful and accessible for those with a variety of experiences.

The European Commission (2001), suggest that for the purposes of developing a national approach to the recognition of prior learning, prior learning encompasses:

  1. Formal learning takes place through programmes of study or training and is delivered by education or training providers, and which attract awards,
  2. Non-formal learning takes place alongside the mainstream systems of education and training. It may be assessed but does not normally lead to formal certification. Examples of non-formal learning include learning and training activities undertaken in the workplace, in the voluntary sector, or in communities,
  3. Informal learning takes place through life and work experience (experiential learning). It is learning that is quite unintentional and the learner may not recognize at the time of the experience that it contributed to his or her knowledge, skills and competences.

RPL is practiced in many countries for a variety of purposes, for example an individual’s standing in a profession, trades qualifications, academic achievement, recruitment, performance management, career and succession planning.

Network Activity

The RPL Practitioners Network was proposed by practitioners in 2014 and publicly launched in 2015. It is a voluntary group organised around four activities:

  1. Networking: facilitating the diversity of practitioners in the field, in quality assurance, in policy, human resources, recruitment and management, to meet, share experience and build relationships with each other.
  2. Community of Practice: where members share and apply their knowledge and experience together and collaborate to inform policy.
  3. Awareness Raising: where through sharing knowledge and giving a voice to practitioners we can raise awareness of the impact and contribution of RPL personally, socially, in communities, organisations and industries.
  4. Contribution to Policy: as a group of diverse practitioners we can build a platform for collaboration to inform, engage with and contribute to policy, locally, nationally and internationally.

The network is kindly supported by  the  Education and Training Boards Ireland (ETBI), the Irish Universities Association (IUA), Institutes of Technology Ireland IOTI), National Centre for Guidance in Education (NCGE), the National Forum for Teaching & Learning (NFTL), and Quality and Qualifications Ireland (QQI).

The National RPL Project

This national initiative, which is a collaboration between the Technological Universities, the eight IUA Universities, and the Institutes of Technology, is working to streamline and strengthen RPL across our partner institutions, so that larger numbers of learners, particularly those in the workforce, can benefit from higher education.

Funded under the Irish Government’s Human Capital Initiative (HCI) Pillar 3 (Innovation and agility), this ambitious 5-year (2020-2025) €6.9m project has transformative potential for Ireland’s education system to become an international leader in the field. Our vision is that RPL will be an integral part of the higher education system, widely understood, celebrated, and utilised as a flexible pathway to further learning, certification and professional development.

To learn more visit: